Whether or not Glenville State’s women’s basketball program can claim its second straight Division II national championship remains to be seen.
The Pioneers, however, will play in a national quarterfinal for a second straight season after romping their way to a third convincing NCAA Tournament win, 88-63, over West Chester on Monday night at the Waco Center.
Glenville State (32-2) scored at least 24 points in each of the first three quarters and led by 23 at halftime and 28 entering the fourth.
GSU began its season with a 104-78 victory over West Chester and had its way in the rematch for an Atlantic Region crown.
Four Pioneers tallied double-figure scoring, including Breanna Campbell’s 24 points to go with her 10 rebounds and six assists. Mickayla Perdue added 13 points. Hya Haywood recorded 12 points, and Tor’e Alford posted 12 off the bench.
Campbell was named All-Region after averaging 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in the three regional games at Glenville State.
“I am surprised with how it went, but I am happy with it,” said seventh-year Glenville State head coach Kim Stephens. “West Chester is a great team, and they have phenomenal coaches. We have been battling with them since I first started coaching. They are a great team with great players. Leah Johnson is incredible. She had a great career and game, and we did not have an answer for her.”
The Pioneers have won each of their first three postseason games by at least 24 points and a total of 80.
Questions surrounded the Pioneers entering this season after losing 93 percent of their scoring from last year’s team.
“Unbelievable that we have gotten here with this group,” Stephens noted. “I do not think it has set in with them on what they have accomplished and how rare it is. I am extremely proud of them. It shows we recruited great kids — not only athletic and talented basketball players, but ones that wanted to win a championship.
“People do not come here for the big town atmosphere. They come here to win championships. We brought in players with hunger and a desire to win, and they would do whatever it took. I hope they realize that all the work they put in early on is paying off.”
The Pioneers scored the first five points before the Golden Rams (24-9) settled in.
After a layup by WCU’s Emily McAteer gave the visitors a 13-10 advantage, Glenville regained the lead with three consecutive three-pointers, including two from Alford. GSU led 19-13 with 2:25 remaining in the opening quarter..
Campbell’s layup 2 seconds before time expired in the opening period allowed the Pioneers to lead, 24-19.
“I enjoy playing basketball, so I try to make basketball plays all the time when I get in the game,” Campbell said. “If it is passing or getting down there with the big girls, I enjoy doing that.”
The Pioneers continued their hot shooting to open the second quarter and led 39-25 before rattling off six straight points on a Chalon Miles triple, one free throw Campbell and Haywood’s fast break layup.
West Chester got back-to-back buckets from Johnson and McAteer to trail by 16 on a night when Johnson led all scorers with 26 points and McAteer added 14.
However, GSU got another Haywood basket from close range to go with five straight points from Aline Fevrier, who made a three and two free throws to give the home team a decisive 52-29 halftime advantage.
Ten of Glenville State’s 17 field goals in the first half were triples. The Pioneers shot 43 percent from long distance in the first 20 minutes.
“It was big because I knew at halftime we were not going to keep shooting like that,” Stephens noted. “I knew we had to keep our foot on the gas pedal defensively and with the rebounds. We usually shoot better in the second half than in the first.”
West Chester scored the opening basket of the second half, but got no closer than 21 over the final two quarters as Glenville maintained its comfortable lead.
Campbell’s trey with 6:29 left in the third gave the Pioneers their first 30-point advantage at 68-38 as part of a 9-0 spurt.
Glenville State awaits its seed for the quarterfinal round, which will be played March 20 at the St. Joseph Civic Arena in Missouri.